April 27, 2019
Update: I kept using this approach and recently found an even simpler way to checkout remote branches.
$ git checkout -t $(git branch -a | grep <target-branch
I wrote more about it in Git - Checking Out Remote Branches, Revisted
Earlier this week, I pulled down a colleague’s work to test it locally. Unfortunately, the steps I followed ended up merging the new feature branch into my local master - unbeknownst to me. Then, when I pushed my work up for review, suddenly, I was carrying along all of his work too (since I merged my local master in to make sure I handled conflicts).
So, if you want to run a feature branch locally, how exactly do you pull a branch from a remote repository without merging it into an existing local branch?
StackOverflow to the rescue!1
As of Git version ^1.6.6
$ git fetch $ git checkout test
$ git checkout -b test <name of remote>/test # or the shorthand $ git checkout -t <name of remote>/test
$ git checkout -b feature/123-do-something-awesome origin/feature/123-do-something-awesome $ git checkout -t origin/feature/123-do-something-awesome
I often find it helpful to look up what these flags and options are doing — in this particular case, we’re taking advantage of the
Before looking this process up, I wasn’t aware that
-b took an optional second parameter,
<start point> which in our case is the
-t option works similarly, but we only specify the upstream and allowing Git to derive the branch name.
If no -b option is given, the name of the new branch will be derived from the remote-tracking branch
git checkout -b|-B <new_branch> [<start point>] Specifying -b causes a new branch to be created as if git-branch(1) were called and then checked out. In this case you can use the --track or --no-track options, which will be passed to git branch. As a convenience, --track without -b implies branch creation; see the description of --track below. If -B is given, <new_branch> is created if it doesn't exist; otherwise, it is reset. This is the transactional equivalent of $ git branch -f <branch> [<start point>] $ git checkout <branch> that is to say, the branch is not reset/created unless "git checkout" is successful. ... -t, --track When creating a new branch, set up "upstream" configuration. See "--track" in git-branch(1) for details. If no -b option is given, the name of the new branch will be derived from the remote-tracking branch, by looking at the local part of the refspec configured for the corresponding remote, and then stripping the initial part up to the "*". This would tell us to use "hack" as the local branch when branching off of "origin/hack" (or "remotes/origin/hack", or even "refs/remotes/origin/hack"). If the given name has no slash, or the above guessing results in an empty name, the guessing is aborted. You can explicitly give a name with -b in such a case.
Thanks for reading! My name's Stephen Weiss. I live in Chicago with my wife, Kate, and dog, Finn.
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